We had the good fortune of connecting with Teresa Verduzco and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Teresa, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
Balance is a work in progress. Family life, work and then adding my own business to the equation, can easily tip the scale. When I start to feel overwhelmed, I make time for a run or join a fitness class to clear the mind. Over time, I’ve become better at prioritizing. When I was younger, I struggled with the fear of missing out and thought I had to accept every opportunity that came my way. I’ve realized that not everything as important as we tend to believe. I’m getting better at eliminating the fluff.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
As a writer, I get to share the struggles of my family’s immigrant story. My book, Sundays with Abuelita is unique because it’s based on my childhood memories. It was not easy to share my life growing up in a small village and being unable to afford the basic necessities. When I came to America, life became very different and I felt I had to keep my past secretly tucked away if I wanted to adapt to a new culture, language, and lifestyle. When I became a teacher, I saw myself through my students. I started sharing my stories of humble beginnings with them. They listened with intent as their hearts filled with hope and gratitude. I started writing down those stories in a journal with the idea that one day I’d write a book.
At the same time, writing a book made me uncomfortable. During the writing process, I doubted myself and wondered why people would want to read a story of an “average” little girl who came from nothing. The more I thought about it, it became clear that the world was thirsty for such stories of struggle, determination, and hope. Bookshelves in big bookstores lack genuine stories with diverse characters. I’ve realized how important it is that the world knows of the gifts immigrants bring, recognize the fruit of our hard work, see the struggles we’ve overcome, and the long road we have traveled to reach the American dream.
I am proud to have written a story that people connect to, that brings hope into the lives of immigrant children and adults, and that everyone can appreciate.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
The South Bay in sunny California is a known for its beaches, restaurants and shopping venues. If my best friend visited the area, I’d ask her to stay longer to get a taste of adventure. I’d welcome her by introducing her to my favorite Friday hang out, Havana Mania. It’s a quaint, family owned Cuban restaurant where we’d enjoy refreshing Mojitos and a delicious, Ricky Ricardo sandwich. For dessert, we’d walk over to Azucanela, one of my favorite places to enjoy a tranquil moment in its enchanted patio. We’d catch up over coffee and a delicious “Churro Abuelita.” How fitting is that? On a Saturday morning, I’d drive to Whittier and introduce her to my Happy Hour Running group. We’d do a five or ten-mile trail run at the Rideout trails. Then, we’d head over to explore Redondo Beach. After a fun photo shoot, we’d catch the breathtaking sunset, and then head over to Tony’s On the Pier to enjoy a nice lunch as the waves crash against the rocky shore. At night, we’d enjoy a fun ambience at Kalavera’s restaurant, where background music creates a festive mood as we share my favorite spicy Molcajete dish for two. During the week, we’d visit the Tin Roof in Manhattan Beach. As we wait for our reservations, we’d go next door to mbWINEco for a charcuterie tray and a relaxing wine experience. I also love supporting small businesses so we’ll definitely make time to visit the local, Mi Zacatecas Mexican restaurant where we can enjoy delicious, authentic Mexican cuisine. We’d end the week with a spa treatment at Terranea Resort in Palos Verdes. We’d enjoy the pool that overlooks the ocean and then walk to Nelson’s restaurant for a bite, refreshing drink and more breathtaking ocean views. We’d fill in the gaps with shopping at the trendy and newly remodeled Del Amo Mall but if she prefers a more intimate shopping experience, Manhattan Beach Mall would be the spot. I’m certain that my bestie would extend her visit to further explore the countless fine dining places and beautiful sights that the South Bay has to offer.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My author friend Gladys Barbieri saw my potential as a writer and inspired me to print my story and attend my first author’s critique group, with the Children’s Book Writers of Los Angeles (CBW-LA). Nutschell Windsor, the president of this organization, coordinates and conducts excellent workshops that help writers hone their craft. Through this writing group, I found a supportive group of authors working toward the same goal. It was there where I met my phenomenal editor, Alana Marie Garrigues. Also, I got to know Angie Flores, author of Cub’s Wish, who became a dear friend who took me under her wings and taught me the ins and outs of this publishing journey. I’ve also been extremely fortunate to have a loving and supportive husband and three children who saw me through this long process. My mother and eight siblings were instrumental in creating the memories in my story. Last but not least, all my friends whose encouragement, love and support made my book, Sundays with Abuelita a #1 Best Seller on release day.